Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to sell papers: appeal to our vanity

195 pounds
The Guardian is the latest media outlet to publish an anti-exercise article. (Time magazine did so last fall as well.) The Guardian article is called, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin” (pictured above) and is sending the absolute wrong message—which is that we should not exercise but instead just diet.

Dieting is one of the most unhealthy things you can do for your body. It slows your metabolism and often deprives you of necessary nutrients and energy.

The bottom line is that it's more important to be healthy than to be thin. And being healthy is the result of EXERCISING, not dieting. Oddly, The Guardian article openly admits this fact. As Terry Wilkin, professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, explains in The Guardian article, "That's not to say that exercise is not making [us] healthy in other ways . . . just that it's having no palpable effect on their overall size and shape."

So Wilkin wants us to focus on our overall size and shape” rather than our health? What???

This guy ought to have his medical license stripped. After all the first part of the Hippocratic oath states, “First, do no harm.” And by focusing on “size and shape” rather than health, he’s doing us a world of harm.

Those of us who have brains know that health is obviously much more important than size or shape, but unfortunately this article is taking advantage of the fact that most people are obsessed with looking good in a bathing suit—whether that's possible or not.

It's also not true that long-term interval exercise won't help you lose weight, and if you read closely, you will notice how this article distorts evidence to match their ridiculous headline. Experts at The Mayo Clinic explain that "an exercise regimen… is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change."

Did you notice what I noticed?

They said, SHORT-TERM WEIGHT LOSS. In fact, this article says nothing about long-term weight loss. And anyone who knows anything about nutrition or health knows that "short-term" weight loss is not desirable.

It’s also interesting that the people at the Mayo Clinic NEVER ONCE advocate giving up exercising, though this quote is used in support of that argument.

As has been proven time and again, over ninety percent of the people who go on diets gain the weight back, and that losing/gaining yo-yo is incredibly unhealthy. On the other hand, regular exercise is the best thing you can do for your body.

In addition, these studies focus on people who exercise once a day, but for years research has shown that we must exercise more than once a day to lose weight (not to be healthy—to be healthy you need only workout once a day—but to lose weight).

The Guardian wants to sell papers and increase readership for advertising purposes, and unfortunately, they are trying to do that by appealing to their readers' desire to be thin at any cost, ultimately, their vanity. The message they are sending is completely irresponsible and, honestly, disgusts me.

Obesity is a real problem in our society, and it keeps getting worse. Even the article admits that "Each successive postwar generation [has enjoyed] an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, and those lifestyles have been accompanied by an apparently inexorable increase in obesity. Three in five UK adults are now officially overweight. And type II diabetes, which used to be a disease that affected you at the end of your life, is now the fastest-rising chronic disorder in paediatric clinics."

If we’ve become more sedentary and we're also become more overweight, it's simply illogical to think the two are not related in some way. Of course, they are.

The authors of this article may believe these limited studies prove otherwise, but as I've already said, these studies FOCUS ONLY on the short-term and don't look at interval exercise or, more importantly, consider the HEALTH BENEFITS of exercise. No, they are only concerned with weight loss, which does not necessarily correlate with health.

Yes, we must do something about obesity, and as the numbers prove, dieting does not work in the long run, which is why the message of this article is grossly irresponsible.

Oddly, if you read to the end of the article, you'll see that most researchers think the claim that we don't need to exercise is complete bunk. Interesting that they buried those researchers at the end the article, isn't it? It's because The Guardian‘s real goal is to GET READERS. They clearly have no interest in helping people be healthier.

This is obvious when you look at all of the much more helpful info that was buried in the few paragraphs before the wildly irresponsible conclusion of this article:

• Dr Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health science at Bristol University and advisor to the [British] government's obesity strategy, claims, "It's far too early to start discounting things as important as physical activity. Those who are saying it has no impact are neglecting a huge amount of the literature."

• Professor Paul Gately of the Carnegie Weight Management institution in Leeds explains, for "people who have lost weight and kept weight off, physical activity is almost always involved. And those people who just do diet are more likely to fail, as are those who just do exercise." Notice that he mentions keeping weight off . . . IN THE LONG RUN, which is exactly what this article fails to address.

• "'What we want to avoid is people thinking they can control their weight simply by dieting,' adds Dr Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and health research at the Medical Research Council, who points out that this is the very scenario that encourages anorexia in teenage girls. 'Just restricting your diet is not going to be the healthiest way to live.' . . . scientific studies show that exercise is an important factor in maintaining weight loss and, Jebb adds, some studies suggest it can help in preventing weight gain."

If you care about your health at all, please don’t buy into this propaganda. Because that’s all it is . . . propaganda designed to get you to buy newspapers. I know the newspaper industry is struggling, but misleading readers about their health is not the solution.


  1. I shared this on my facebook, because you're right. It's ridiculous to tell people they shouldn't exercise!

  2. Thanks, Boomer! It is unbelievably ridiculous.

  3. It makes me a little mad that anyone would say it really, especially when our WHOLE country is suffering from obesity and we are surrounded everyday by terrible, preservative full food.

    Also, I LOVE your blog! It has helped me with my self-esteem so much that I read it when I'm feeling bad about myself. You have really inspired me and a couple of my friends to be more real and less harsh with each other and ourselves. Thank you!